By: Matt Doherty
With the regular season over, all eyes now turn to the Patriot League Tournament with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line. As we’ve seen in the past, the top seeds don’t always prevail with #4 Lafayette taking it home last year and CJ McCollum leading his Lehigh Mountain Hawks to a tournament title before knocking off #2 Duke in the big dance in 2012. With madness ensuing in early March, here’s a breakdown of the upcoming Patriot League Tourney.
- Bucknell (13-4, 16-12)
- Lehigh (13-5, 15-14)
- Boston U (11-7, 18-13)
- Army (9-9, 18-12)
- Colgate (9-9, 13-16)
- American (9-9, 11-18)
- Navy (9-9, 18-13)
- Loyola Maryland (8-10, 9-20)
- Holy Cross (5-13, 10-19)
- Lafayette (3-15, 6-23)
Team Break Down
Bucknell- The Bison are the favorite to win the tournament. The regular season champs are led by senior guard Chris Haas (17.3 PPG) and his supporting cast of fellow seniors Ryan Frazier and Dom Hoffman, and young guard Stephen Brown.
Lehigh- The Mountain Hawks are fueled by two-time Patriot League Player of the Year Tim Kempton (17.5 PPG, 9.3 RPG) who dominated down low all season. After struggling in non-conference play, the Hawks have found their groove and look like the team to beat along with Bucknell.
Boston U- Injuries have plagued the Terriers all season long with Cedric Hankerson and Justin Alston both missing most of the season and now Nathan Dieudonne out as well. The ones who have stayed healthy have produced led by junior forward Eric Fanning and guards Cheddi Mosely and John Papale. BU seeks a trip to the big dance for the first time since 2011.
Army- The Black Knights are a dark horse to win the whole thing with one of the most potent offenses in the league. Tanner Plomb leads the attack with a conference high 20 PPG and Kevin Ferguson posts a league high 9.7 RPG as well. This team starts five seniors and has enough weapons and experience to punch their first ever ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
Colgate- A young Colgate squad has certainly surpassed pre-season expectations with a fifth place finish. One of two upperclassmen, senior guard Austin Tillotson, is deadly from behind the arc to guide the Red Raider three point onslaught which they hope can carry them.
American- The Eagles were rated the worst offensive team in Division 1 basketball on January 17th. After starting the season 2-15, the upset minded Eagles are 9-3 since and are looking to ride the momentum deep into the tournament. Senior guard Jesse Reed paces the team with 12.8 PPG.
Navy- The Mids spent the majority of the season near the top of the Patriot League standings but lost four straight to end the regular season to drop to the seventh seed. If you were to pick any first round team to make a deep run in this tournament, it’s Navy. Seniors Will Kelly and Tilman Dunbar lead the Mids on offense and a stingy defense (64.5 OPPG) gives Navy a shot.
Loyola- Loyola struggled mightily in non-conference play winning just one game and have been around .500 in the league since. The Greyhounds have a great guard in Andre Walker (14.3 PPG) but their problems lie on the defensive end. Luckily, they get a first round game at home where they play well.
Holy Cross- It was a regular season to forget for the Crusaders who won just five conference games including zero on the road. Freshman Karl Charles presents promise for Holy Cross in the future but a road game in the first round presents problems for the league’s worst shooting team (41%).
Lafayette- A year removed from winning the tournament and playing Villanova in the NCAA Tournament, the Leopards had a down year. However, they can score at a high pace averaging over 74 points per game but do give up a league worst 80 PPG. Guards Nick Lindner and Matt Klinewski both average over 13 PPG and the Leopards showed they can play with anyone in the Patriot League after losing to Bucknell by two in double overtime just a week ago.
Schedule* (top 6 seeds get first round bye)
First Round, Tuesday, March 1st
#10 Lafayette @ #7 Navy (7 PM, Alumni Hall, Annapolis, Maryland)
#9 Holy Cross @ #8 Loyola Maryland (7:30 PM, Reitz Arena, Baltimore, Maryland)
Quarterfinals, Thursday, March 3rd
#5 Colgate @ #4 Army (7 PM, Christl Arena, West Point, New York)
#6 American @ #3 Boston University (7 PM, Case Gym, Boston, Massachusetts)
Winner of #9 Holy Cross vs. #8 Loyola @ #1 Bucknell (7 PM, Sojka Pavilion, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania)
Winner of #10 Lafayette vs. #7 Navy @ #2 Lehigh (7 PM, Stabler Arena, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)
Semifinals, Sunday, March 6th
#9/#8/#1 vs. #5/#4 (12 PM or 2 PM, highest seed home court)
#10/#7/#2 vs. #6/#3 (12 PM or 2 PM, highest seed home court)
Championship, Wednesday, March 9th
Semifinal Winner 1 vs. Semifinal Winner 2 (7:30 PM, highest seed home court)
#10 Lafayette @ #7 Navy
Matt Doherty: Navy
Chris Lynch: Navy
Analysis: Lafayette will score some points and hang around but at the end, Navy’s defense will be too much.
#9 Holy Cross @ #8 Loyola Maryland
Doherty: Loyola Maryland
Lynch: Loyola Maryland
Analysis: Loyola will find a way to win at home in a close and exciting game.
#6 American @ #3 Boston University
Doherty: Boston University
Lynch: Boston University
Analysis: The Terriers have already beaten American twice this year and will ride the shoulders of Eric Fanning to a quarterfinal win at Case Gym.
#5 Colgate @ #4 Army
Analysis: Two teams that love to shoot the ball, Tillotson will keep it close but Army has too many weapons for Colgate’s defense to handle.
#7 Navy @ #2 Lehigh
Analysis: Navy has the team to hang around with the Mountain Hawks, but at the end there will be too much Tim Kempton.
#8 Loyola Maryland @ #1 Bucknell
Analysis: Bison should roll easily, especially on their home court.
#3 Boston University @ #2 Lehigh
Analysis: Toss up game. Both of us pick Lehigh for now but if Nathan Dieudonne comes back and is effective then he can help slow down Kempton. But for now, Lehigh has the advantage because of the injury riddled Terriers and home court.
#4 Army @ #1 Bucknell
Analysis: Lynch and I are both high on Army after seeing them run BU out of the gym last week. Although Bucknell will keep up with them, the Knights will pull off the upset at Sojka in what should be the game of the tournament.
#4 Army @ #2 Lehigh
Doherty: Lehigh. At the end of the day, the Black Knights don’t have enough answers for Tim Kempton who carries his team to another NCAA Tournament appearance.
Lynch: Army. Can Lehigh keep up with Army’s offensive pace? I say no. I think that Army pulls off the upset on pure offensive punch.